notemapez

“You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.”
― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
I was at our neighborhood hardware shop this morning and found what is arguably the best rake I have ever seen. Hard wood handle with a spring loaded tension bar across a fret with 22 steel teeth. The symmetry is sublime. #gooddesign

I’m reposting this from last June because…Well, because nobody understands me. #erotica

I was at our neighborhood hardware shop this morning and found what is arguably the best rake I have ever seen. Hard wood handle with a spring loaded tension bar across a fret with 22 steel teeth. The symmetry is sublime. #gooddesign

I’m reposting this from last June because…Well, because nobody understands me. #erotica

Final Brazos Post
This house continues to hold me in a sleepy grip. Of course, it’s the altitude, the chilly mornings, the late rising sun which doesn’t seem to top the ponderosas until ten. Mexico kicked my ass for sure, so there’s a bit of recovery from that as well, but regardless, this place is for dreaming. Inevitably, I pry myself from the warmth, head downstairs, put on the kettle and grind some beans. My goal each day is to have at least one broject completed before the monsoonal rains seep over the cliffs and fill the valley. After chores, there’s time for the river, time to pull beaver wood out of the swimming hole, and then a short drive to Three Ravens to reconnect with the world.

The ritual of closing up the summer house is always bitter sweet. It usually entails, some cleaning, a little painting, and of course, cleaning up the winter kill of trees. There are a few aspens that have died. Peckerwood went down on its own this past winter. Change climate has been slowing taking these aspens out. The cotton woods have been impacted as well, but not as bad as the aspens. The oaks of course are thriving, and the ponderosas seem to be clinging on, thankful for the river. I should cut some of these aspens down, especially the two near the house, and a few more near the road, but I’ll wait until next summer.

I’ve decided to stop feeding the hummingbirds, they can be so ungrateful in their squabbles. The skunk migration seems to have subsided, though I continue to walk gingerly through the woods. I came face to face with a cutie yesterday, a real handsome fella with a wet pink nose. The grass is waist high from recent rains, so the skunks have taken to moving about with their tails held high-the better to be seen.  

The ponderosas are fruiting which means lots of squirrels. The little fuckers gnaw and peel noisily through maturing green cones to get at the plump piney seeds. In the process, scattering chips and pine needle bows all over my groomed bocce court. 

The tadpoles trapped in oxbow pools below the point where the river is diverted to irrigate alfalfa fields have disappeared, replaced by black toads and lime green leopard frogs. There’s a large rainbow trout trapped in one of these pools. When I visit, the poor thing takes cover behind a rock which isn’t quite large enough to conceal his length-a head and tail protrude from each end. He won’t survive the winter in this shallow pool. I thought about trying to catch him and move him back to the river, but I have not quite figured out how to do that. 

The spiders have already started to move back into the house. Long silver threads which I cleaned from the sky lights and rafters just a few weeks back have reappeared. Most of the wildflowers have gone to seed and the the tops of the narrow leaf cotton woods are starting to yellow. Time to return to Oman.

Final Brazos Post
This house continues to hold me in a sleepy grip. Of course, it’s the altitude, the chilly mornings, the late rising sun which doesn’t seem to top the ponderosas until ten. Mexico kicked my ass for sure, so there’s a bit of recovery from that as well, but regardless, this place is for dreaming. Inevitably, I pry myself from the warmth, head downstairs, put on the kettle and grind some beans. My goal each day is to have at least one broject completed before the monsoonal rains seep over the cliffs and fill the valley. After chores, there’s time for the river, time to pull beaver wood out of the swimming hole, and then a short drive to Three Ravens to reconnect with the world.

The ritual of closing up the summer house is always bitter sweet. It usually entails, some cleaning, a little painting, and of course, cleaning up the winter kill of trees. There are a few aspens that have died. Peckerwood went down on its own this past winter. Change climate has been slowing taking these aspens out. The cotton woods have been impacted as well, but not as bad as the aspens. The oaks of course are thriving, and the ponderosas seem to be clinging on, thankful for the river. I should cut some of these aspens down, especially the two near the house, and a few more near the road, but I’ll wait until next summer.

I’ve decided to stop feeding the hummingbirds, they can be so ungrateful in their squabbles. The skunk migration seems to have subsided, though I continue to walk gingerly through the woods. I came face to face with a cutie yesterday, a real handsome fella with a wet pink nose. The grass is waist high from recent rains, so the skunks have taken to moving about with their tails held high-the better to be seen.

The ponderosas are fruiting which means lots of squirrels. The little fuckers gnaw and peel noisily through maturing green cones to get at the plump piney seeds. In the process, scattering chips and pine needle bows all over my groomed bocce court.

The tadpoles trapped in oxbow pools below the point where the river is diverted to irrigate alfalfa fields have disappeared, replaced by black toads and lime green leopard frogs. There’s a large rainbow trout trapped in one of these pools. When I visit, the poor thing takes cover behind a rock which isn’t quite large enough to conceal his length-a head and tail protrude from each end. He won’t survive the winter in this shallow pool. I thought about trying to catch him and move him back to the river, but I have not quite figured out how to do that.

The spiders have already started to move back into the house. Long silver threads which I cleaned from the sky lights and rafters just a few weeks back have reappeared. Most of the wildflowers have gone to seed and the the tops of the narrow leaf cotton woods are starting to yellow. Time to return to Oman.

Silly how excited a grown man can get over a fish…

Enjoying the final days of summer back home on the Los Brazos.
1. Mi casita in evening light
2. Fuck Anglos, a very old trespassing sign-when’s the last time you saw the term Anglos used in a derogatory way? This sign was on our property when we bought it 15 years ago.
3. Finest bocce court in New Mexico
4. Using the sweet new knife Carlito made for me.
5. Three Ravens Coffee shop-closest internet.
6. Live music at Three Ravens-David Hammond band.

Six days in Baja Sur, Mexico condensed into a little over a minute.

Some new images of last week’s roosterfish pulled from the gopro.

According to my daughter, I was also sitting next to Naomi Watts.
She kept smiling at me. 
I’m a dumbass.

According to my daughter, I was also sitting next to Naomi Watts.
She kept smiling at me.
I’m a dumbass.

Celebrity Culture

This summer as my friends and I were leaving the Yards, an abandoned train depot that transforms into a Sunday growers and artists market in Albuquerque, I slipped between two tightly parked cars and came face to face with Saul Goodman. We stared at each other in that awkward moment when neither of us could pass. Finally I say, hello, as in, hello, can you back the fuck up, I’m trying to get through here. Saul returns the greeting and gives way. As we squeezed past each other, I add thanks, how are you, which he replies, good, man.
Saul (actor Jimmy McGill from the series, Breaking Bad) now has his own spinoff series on AMC, where he plays the same sleazy lawyer character. I’m not actually a Breaking Bad fan or in touch with burque’s celebrity culture, so I confess that I had no idea who Saul was until my friend, Wendy informed me seconds after our encounter. A couple walking into the Yard behind Saul are visibly excited. Was that Saul they ask? Who the hell is Saul, I respond. At which point, it’s all explained to me.
Then again while waiting to board a flight in San Jose de Cabo, I found myself sitting next to Liev Schreiber. He looked familiar but I just couldn’t place him. He finally caught me staring a second too long and said, hello. I replied, you look familiar, are you Dennis Quaid? He laughs, no, but I’m an actor, my name is Liev Schreiber. Oh I reply, I’m really sorry for the confusion. No problem he replies. We talk a few more minutes, mostly about Baja, before I quickly get up and move to the end of the boarding line, thus avoiding any further embarrassment. At some point in the flight it finally dawns on me. Snap, he played the really evil double agent in the movie Salt with Angelina Jolie and Wolverine’s bad brother! I really suck at remembering celebrity names, but this isn’t about my summer brushes with fame. This is actually about a theory that I have on celebrity culture. Well maybe it’s not my theory, probably not, but at least I’ve not come across it before. The theory is that as a society moves farther away from a sense of community, I’m talking real community where people know their neighbors and interact day to day with each other, you know like in the fictional sixties television town of Mayberry, or the kind of communities that are still prevalent in many parts of Europe or Asia, especially in the more the rural settings, the more likely they are to embrace celebrity culture. In essence, the lives of celebrities becomes their community. A community where everyone shares mutual knowledge of so and so’s bizness if ya know what I mean. It’s basically a symptom of a void, a need to fill what’s missing in our society, to connect and be a part of a community dynamic. What else explains the obsession Americans have with celebrity culture? Just a thought…

Life’s journey is not to
arrive at the grave safely
in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways,
totally used up and worn out, shouting
‘…man,what a ride!’
George Carlin

—Got this quote from Greg, a fellow fly fisherman, Rooster hunter I met on the beach.
It sums up what we do.
I would add, skid in sideways, with a couple of rolls and a face plant!

Thoughts on Roosters

Okay, first off, I’m a complete neophyte when it comes to hunting roosters from the beach, but I’ve logged a least three decades of beach fishing and two decades of targeting jack species con mosca. What follows is a combination of first impressions and said experience from the past week. Hey, I’ve got three hours to kill at the airport since I had to turn in my car early to avoid extra charges, and I cannot get this fish out of my head.

Like all jacks, roosters are brutishly strong. Anyone who’s fished jacks of any species or size can attest to that. They are essentially bulldogs. While they can be extremely reckless in their feeding behavior, the older and bigger fish, especially the fish that decide they no longer need the security of the pack, can be tough to fool. I’m not talking about those chummed up GTs out at Christmas Island, I’m talking about big Roosters, Crevalle, Golden Trevs and those amazing solo free range Geets I’ve seen streaking across an expansive South Pacific flat. The last time I was at Christmas, I could not believe the idiots who were catching monster GTs, a process that involved being taken out to a sandbar on an incoming, and standing there while guides hand feed chunks of freshly netted milkfish to huge Geets, working them into a feeding frenzy until they would eat a fly or a bare hook. Sorry, this isn’t what I originally was going to blog about, just had to vent.

Without a doubt, jacks are a redemption species that can salvage a tough day of fishing. I cannot even begin to recall how many times catching a few nice jack Crevalle at the end of an otherwise frustrating session of tarpon or even more frustrating permit fishing has saved my day. I absolutely love targeting the bar jacks or cohinua that maraud the flats of Los Roques, or the bluefin trevs of the Cook Islands and Socotra. Over the years, I’ve lost track of how many jack species I’ve caught on the fly, but it must be over twenty by now. Australia is arguable the Mecca of jacks. In a single trip around Cape York, I once caught over a dozen species of jacks, including Golden trevs, Brassy, Tea-leaf, Diamond trevs with their thready rooster-like dorsals, Big-eyes, Orange-spot, Blacktips, etc, etc. Jacks are without a doubt the most targeted saltwater fly fishing species in the world. They can be stalked on flats, beaches, reefs, estuaries, and open blue water. They fight like bloody hell, and most often will readily accept any type of fly. On surface poppers, they have no rival. And contrary to belief, most species make excellent eating-I’ll take a blacktip trev steak on a wood fire grill over tuna any day, unless of course you’re serving up a tuna collar. But I digress once again.

Roasters are essentially jacks, beautiful jacks, as pretty as they come, but jacks nonetheless. I kept having to remind myself of this fact during those long fish-less periods standing on a desolate stretch of hot sweltering beach. They’re just big jacks, they’re just big jacks, a mantra that while helps keep things in perspective, did nothing to quell the shaking in my legs each time a forty-fifty pound fish came within casting range.

As far as beauty, Roosters are right up there with the diamond or threadfins, the iridescent bluefin trevs and the colorfully striped Goldens. What sets them apart is their freakish size. Rosters can get over 100 pounds, which puts them up their with the Geets. As far as degree of difficulty, they’ve got to be way up there, I’d say almost, if not as tough as permit. Factor in the hours and physical conditions one must endure to get a shot or two off, especially when targeting big roosters solomente, sans quad and guide, and you’ve got a recipe for a real ass-whupping, which I was totally prepared to take when planing this five day trip.

There were mornings this past week when it felt like I was getting up to go to work. Early morning coffee, making my cheese sandwich, the long drive to the beach, the twenty minute slog from the car to the point over hot sand, setting up the shade, and then the hours of waiting, watching, punctuated with an occasional foray down the beach. The heat and humidity in late summer will suck every ounce of life out you. The mind wanders in and out, and then comes the late afternoon sleepiness. But when those huge shadows appear, it’s like a snort of pure adrenaline. Again, the mantra, they’re just jacks, as you frantically strip line and prepare for a cast, oblivious of the burning sand under bare feet.

And then the miraculous happens and the fish eats your fly. At this point, there are at least a dozen events that have to line up, a harmonic convergence that would rival any pagan ritual. The hook has to stick, the coils of loose fly line in the surf and sand have to clear your feet and toes, the reel, the fighting butt, buttons on your shirt, the guides. When the drag finally engages, the loop knot on the fly has to hold, your leader knots and loop to loop connections have to seat and lock, and then the backing has to come smoothly off the reel. All the while you’re thinking, did I pack the backing right? This is why you never ever allow a fly shop to spool your backing, or fix loops. Do it yourself, and then at least you know, or have no one to blame but yourself. And then, all of the above has to hold together for the next hour. I’m telling ya, standing there on the beach, all alone, just you and the fish for an hour is physically and emotionally exhausting. But you’ve asked for this, right? My first thought when that fish ate was, Lordy, Lordy, what have I done? But at this point, there’s no turning back, you’ve pulled the trigger and now you’ve got to deal with the situation, even when the idea of landing such a fish seems like a pure fantasy.

Normally when I land a permit, it’s only a matter a minutes before I’m hungry for another. They’re like potato chips. But big roosters? I have to admit, I’m not sure I was ready to go again the next day. I had a great shot at another fish the same size, if not bigger that next afternoon. It turned on the fly aggressively and opened its mouth, but then looked up and saw me and veered away. Yeah, sure I wanted that fish, but it didn’t break my heart when she changed her mind. Roosters! These fuckers seriously tested the notemapez moniker on my blog. I now have total respect for them, as well as all the jacks.

They’ve just announced my flight, but here’s two more photos. The first Is kind of blurry (water on the lens), but it’s a pretty shot of the ol girl (It had to be a female, as the two fish with her were smaller, perhaps only forty pounds-her cabana boys). I took this pic just before release. You can see she’s got her color back. The second is my first rooster, a much smaller fish caught in 2010 casting a plug with a spin rod.

I stopped in at East Cape tackle on my way to the airport to pick up a shirt for my Omani mate, Kamal. The owner, Cindy Kirkwood was there, so I asked if she would have a look at a rooster to help estimate the weight. I showed her all of the pics. Cindy immediately called over one of her employees. Have a look at this beautiful fish she implored. She told me for sure fifty pounds, approaching sixty. All up on the interweb I found that a potential IGFA fly record, a rooster just over sixty pounds was caught last June by Margaret Shaughnessy. She hooked and landed the fish from a boat which took four hours on 20 pound tippet. Stupid IGFA class regulations kill lots of fish due to the extended fight times, but I think this fish survived. Most jacks are a hardy species. So fer sheezy, this fish was record class. The funny thing, most of the roosters I saw this week were similar in size. Perhaps this is due to the smaller fish being somewhere else this late in the season? It remains a mystery. I will post some gopro video in the coming week, if I managed to get anything worth using.